London: An Indian woman employee at the London office of IT major Wipro has filed a 1 million pounds compensation case of sexual discrimination, unequal pay and unfair dismissal against the firm. However, Wipro refused to comment on the lawsuit. The woman alleged she was subjected to a “deeply predatory, misogynistic culture” and forced into an affair with a married boss at the Bangalore headquartered firm’s UK division.
Shreya Ukil, 39, told an employment tribunal in London this week how her boss called her “a seductive dancer from Indian mythology”. “Women who are confident, capable and express their viewpoints are often called ‘emotional’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘menopausal’. Women who supported women are called ‘lesbians’,” she said. She claimed she was manipulated into an affair with a married senior vice-president.
On one business trip to Stockholm in 2013, the married senior vice-president Manoj Punja, 54, allegedly told her the silk blouse she was wearing was “too tight” for her body type. The India-born woman said she embarked on the affair despite finding his conversation “inane” and that he suffered on occasion from a “certain body odour”, the Daily Telegraph reported. Male colleagues boasted they had invited escorts to their rooms at sales conferences and a top executive “misbehaved” with a Mexican dancer during a company jolly in Las Vegas, the tribunal was told, according to the report. Ukil was not invited to the firm’s annual sales conference in Las Vegas in May 2012 but colleague Praneet Pittal did attend and called her on the phone from the United States.
“He told me he was having a lot of fun because the main events at the sales conference were getting drunk, visiting strip clubs and attending some meetings,” said Ukil. “I honestly believed that this was the main reason that I was not asked to attend. It was a boys’ outing. “He also told me that one of the senior leaders, Soumitra Ghosh – the global head of the banking vertical – had got very drunk and had misbehaved with one of the Mexican dancers at the awards evening during the conference.
“He told me that it was very embarrassing to observe a senior leader who could not behave himself after a few drinks.” The former sales and market development manager, who handled outsourcing business deals for Wipro, said she was treated like “dirty goods” after ending the affair and lodging complaints about her treatment. She also claimed she was paid far less than male staff, earning up to 75,000 pounds a year rather than the typical 150,000 pounds paid to male equivalents. Several other women had left Wipro because of similar experiences, Ukil claimed. She was seeing a psychiatrist and taking daily anti-depressants, she further said. “Wipro does not comment on its ongoing lawsuits and Wipro is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity and provides all our employees with a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment of any kind. Wipro is defending these allegations before the court,” Wipro Ltd said. “Following an impartial inquiry, both were relieved from the services,” it said.
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